Pillar drives in a run, Giants hit four homers to power past Blue Jays

Giants 7 Blue Jays 6

TORONTO — Joe Panik homered and drove in three runs, Kevin Pillar had an RBI in his return to Rogers Centre, and the San Francisco Giants held off a late Toronto comeback attempt to defeat the Blue Jays 7-6 on Tuesday in the opener of a two-game interleague series.

Pablo Sandoval, Brandon Belt and Evan Longoria also hit home runs as San Francisco (10-14) build a 7-2 lead.

But Rowdy Tellez hit an eighth-inning grand slam for the Blue Jays (11-13) to make it a one-run game.

Eric Sogard extended his hit streak to six games with a solo homer and Socrates Brito had an RBI triple in Toronto’s first loss in five games.

Will Smith shut down the Jays in the ninth to pick up his sixth save.

Tuesday marked Pillar’s first game in Toronto since the centre-fielder was traded to the Giants on April 2. Pillar had played seven seasons as a Blue Jay and was selected by the team in the 32nd round of the 2011 draft.

The Jays honoured Pillar with a video tribute in the first inning, which he watched from the field while receiving a standing ovation. The 30-year-old tipped his cap to fans when it was over.

He also received loud applause from the crowd of 20,384 before his first at-bat in the second inning, which resulted in an RBI single to bring in San Francisco’s first run.

Jeff Samardzija (2-1) allowed two runs and five hits with a walk and four strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings. Rookie right-hander Trent Thornton (0-3) allowed four runs with six hits and five strikeouts over five innings.

Panik gave the Giants a 4-1 lead in the fifth inning, sending a solo blast into the centre-field seats. It was the first home run of the season for San Francisco’s nine-hole hitter, who came into the game with a measly .177 batting average.

Panik earned his first two RBI’s of the game on a two-run double in the second that followed Pillar’s run-scoring single. The Giants jumped on Thornton with four straight two-out hits in the frame en route to a 3-0 lead.

Toronto got on the board in the bottom of the second when a Brito triple — just his second hit in his first 25 at-bats as a Blue Jay — plated Tellez.

Longoria hit a solo homer off reliever Thomas Pannone in the sixth to extend San Francisco’s lead to 5-1, but Sogard cut the deficit to 5-2 with his first homer of the season in the bottom of the sixth. The infielder came into Tuesday batting .409 in his first five games since being recalled from triple-A Buffalo last week.

Belt’s eighth-inning homer, also off Pannone, restored San Francisco’s four-goal cushion and Sandoval followed with a solo bomb off Daniel Hudson for a 7-2 lead.

NOTES: The teams close out the two-game series Wednesday afternoon. Right-hander Clay Buchholz will start for Toronto while the Giants counter with lefty Drew Pomeranz. … The Blue Jays announced before the game that No. 2 prospect Bo Bichette sustained a broken left hand when he was hit by a pitch on Monday night. … Toronto’s Freddy Galvis made a pinch-hit appearance in the ninth, extending his iron-man streak to 349 games.

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